Rights chief calls for greater access for probes

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Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking at the start of the 33rd Human Rights Council in Geneva. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Opposition to UN human rights probes by Member States is growing and an increasing number of them are unwilling to allow access to specially appointed investigators, the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein was speaking on the opening day of the 33rd Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Highlighting that the issue of human rights transcends international boundaries, Mr Zeid said that countries which avoided independent scrutiny simply heightened people's suspicions further.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The growing refusal by an increasing number of Member States to grant access to investigators appointed by UN human rights mechanisms has become a serious problem.

That was the message from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, delivered at the start of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.

"Human rights violations will not disappear if a government blocks access to international observers and then invests in a public relations campaign to offset any unwanted publicity. On the contrary, efforts to duck or refuse legitimate scrutiny raise an obvious question: what, precisely, are you hiding from us?"

The human rights chief listed countries and territories where UN investigators have either been denied access or have yet to open up to investigators.

These included Syria, Venezuela and Crimea, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Mr Zeid also touched on the sensitive nature of much of the work of the Human Rights Council, before highlighting its "growing polarisation".

But he insisted that the international community had "no alternative" than to work together to solve common problems, particularly in light of what he called the "forces tearing away" at it: namely terrorism and "dangerous xenophobes and bigots running for office" in upcoming elections around the world.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’22″


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